4 December, 1999

I Love Chicago!

Well, sounds like its been a shitty week in Seattle. What it boils down to in my mind is that the WTO is kinda neat for promoting free trade, but you know maybe it has a little too much power, not quite enough oversight, if it tromps about coercing governments to overturn environmental or health legislation. Protests rock, and it seems anarchists disprove their own arguments that governments limit personal freedoms if they run about inciting riots. Even the most strident Libertarian is going to be hard-pressed to choose between the tyranny of mob violence versus the tyranny of government.

Not that the Seattle government distinguished itself too well either. Sounds like the cops were outnumbered, and once they resorted to the tear gas they got a little too happy with it.

Back in California .... well, dannyman's been battling a cold, which I think I caught from Dave when he picked me up at the Airport. I was kinda curious how I'd feel about Chicago on my trip home.

I love Chicago.

Flying in at night, I looked out the window and caught sight of an ever-expanding grid of golden streetlights, laid out across the landscape with the same regularity with which you can see the corn and soy fields in the day. Home! The city that works.

See, the thing about Chicago is that it has had at least a good extra century on the Bay Area when it comes to Urban planning. It also has the advantage of a central administrative body, a massive fire to clean the city up, and a different philosophy in its design.

The streets are laid out in a grid, the transit system usually works, and makes much more sense than in the Bay Area. The people that immigrated in the last century had in mind working for a living, for a better life. The Bay Area always strikes me as a disorganized boom town.

Gotta make my fortune on the Internet Gold and head back East, maybe.

Well, enough glowing. I rode the El around plenty because I didn't have a car, but mostly because it is the best way to get downtown. I told you, kids, the transit system works!

I'm sure BART and Muni work around the Frisco, yes. But I live out in the 'burbs ... always forget about this, I do. Mountain View is the Naperville of the Bay Area. It's a Schaumberg. Fuckin' yuppies.

Like me, in my Volvo. The rusty-looking station wagon missing its front grill. I got an image to maintain, yes?

Tonight I took a walk, because I'd spent most of the day indoors, venturing out only to meet a new lady from the East Bay for lunch. Anyways, I walked from my house, down the street, round the corner once or twice, across the pedestrian bridge to Palo Alto, and through dark neighborhoods of nice suburban homes, many settled a ways back off the road on their own cul de sacs. I recalled my beloved grid. I know it sounds kind of fascist or whatever, but it just seems more reasonable to me that in a crowded environment, the streets ought to be laid out as orderly as possible, and that traffic can flow through unimpeded any number of ways. Suburbs aren't built with that in mind. Traffic is by car, and it is concentrated in to main streets, expressways, and freeways. Houses have tall wooden fences around them. There are no alleys to duck through, and sidewalks aren't universal.

Guess I'm just used to a particular way of being. California still seems alien to me. At least this suburban part does. It just aint right.

Anyway, along my walk, I came upon East Charleston. Waiting for the "Walk" signal to come up, I got impatient, looked both ways, and crossed the street. A car had been waiting on the other side of the street, and when the lady driving it saw what I had done, she crept up, looked both ways, and blew the red light crossing Charleston, heading in the direction I had come.

I looked back on her car as she rolled down the street and watched the Walk signal and the green light come up after her. What sort of lawlessness was I inspiring in the kindly folks of Palo Alto? Hehe.

Well, the walk wasn't all that bad. The weather was warm enough, and the air smelled like a cedar camp fire. I felt like I was walking through some upscale camping ground. Just a nice atmosphere. I'm looking forward to commuting down those nice, broad streets, some of which are designed specifically for pedestrian and bike traffic, when Tellme moves early in the next Millenium. That is one thing you wont easily find in Chicago - a good bike commute, although Uncle mentioned that the CTA did experiment with bikes on the El this summer.

6 November << 1999 >> 19 December

This document last modified Wednesday, 19-Nov-2003 23:24:54 UTC <dannyman@dannyland.org>